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Meniere's disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear. Symptoms can range from the mild to severe but generally include ringing in the ears, hearing loss, vertigo, dizziness, unusual ear pressure, nausea and vomiting.

Claimants who have severe Meniere’s disease may experience dizziness which can last for up to 24 hours at a time accompanied with vomiting and nausea. Other claimants may have symptoms sporadically lasting one to two hours than have days which are symptom free.

Other severe conditions such as heart disease, stroke and brain tumors can also cause severe vertigo so it is important to see a doctor if you experience other symptoms such as loss of consciousness, numbness, difficulty walking or severe headaches.

Can I qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Meniere’s Disease?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods they use to determine if claimants are disabled: meeting a listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (also known as Blue Book) or proving that they cannot work through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing For Meniere’s Disease

The Social Security Disability Administration (SSA) evaluates Meniere’s Disease under 2.00 Special Senses and Speech, Section 2.07 Disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function. Under this listing the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be evaluating whether the claimant’s condition is “characterized by a history of frequent attacks of balance disturbance, tinnitus, and progressive loss of hearing.”

Having a diagnosis for Meniere’s Disease will not be sufficient to prove disability. Claimants must also meet the listing which means they must prove a “disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth demonstrated by caloric or other vestibular tests and hearing loss established by audiometry.”

Disturbed function of the vestibular labyrinth can include a loss of position or a sensation of dizziness which is frequent or constant. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, ataxia, and incapacitation. The SSA makes a distinction between dizziness which they describe as “light?headedness, unsteadiness, confusion, or syncope” and the other symptoms of Meniere’s disease which can include vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss.

The SSA recognizes the attacks of sufferers are not predictable and the severity can vary. The Social Security Administration would expect claimants to have medical evidence with prolonged observation and multiple examinations.

Winning benefits for Meniere’s Disease under a Medical Vocational Allowance

Many claimants do not “meet or exceed” a listing for Meniere’s disease but they can prove that they do not have the residual functional capacity to work. Most claimants who do not meet a listing will find it helpful to contact a disability lawyer.

Disability lawyers can review the claimants medical information and determine what additional information may be added to their medical files to prove that they do not have the residual functional ability to work their current job, past relevant work or retrain for new work.

As mentioned above, whether or not you will qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits for Meniere’s disease will depend on whether you meet the nonmedical criteria of the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability programs and whether or not you can prove that your condition is so severe you cannot work for at least 12 continuous months.
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